Lauren Kammerer was more than a little surprised to hear she would be playing doubles for Valparaiso's girls tennis team this spring.
"I was really shocked -- and nervous -- about it," said Kammerer, who was a team-best 13-1 at No. 3 singles last season. "I was willing to try something new. I was also really excited."
So far, Kammerer has enjoyed herself, sporting a 9-3 mark with No. 1 doubles partner Alli Hauser for the Times No. 3 Vikings.
Doubles tennis was a pretty different concept for Kammerer, who also played singles for two junior varsity seasons. One of the few forays into the format was a pairing with her father Robert in a tournament at Valparaiso University last summer. The duo won the Father-Daughter Division crown.
"That was fun," Lauren said. "My dad is a great tennis player, and that win helped boost my confidence."
Kammerer wasn't too resistant to the change, since she will play tennis for Crusaders next season.
"I've got to play singles and doubles there anyway," she said. "Any experience I could gain this season will help out."
Before making the change, Valparaiso High School girls tennis coach Tim Shideler believed that Kammerer possessed the right skills to be a doubles player.
"She might not have been familiar with the movement about where to be, but Lauren has always been a real steady player," Shideler said. "Her skill level is pretty high, and she makes great cross-court shots."
Shideler also new that fellow senior Hauser, who played No. 2 varsity doubles as a sophomore, could help provide pointers and support for her new partner.
"Hauser and Allison Hess were one of the best No. 2 doubles teams I've seen in a long time, so I knew Alli could help out Lauren," Shideler said. "It just seemed like the natural move."
It also didn't hurt that Hauser and Kammerer have been friends both on and off the court since they entered high school.
"We know each other so well," Kammerer said. "It helps you understand how to say the right things."
The duo won their first three matches, but Hauser believes a slower start wouldn't have affected this pairing.
"I think it was a good confidence booster to win the first match (a three-setter against Culver Girls Academy) because Lauren was really nervous going into it," Hauser said. "Even if we would've lost, I still think we would found our groove.
"Lauren is really good at the baseline."
Kammerer has also gained confidence at the net.
"My net game has grown crazily," she said. "I've become a lot more aggressive there.
"We've worked together pretty well and pulled out a pretty good season."